Nissan Buys Back Leaf Electric Cars Under Arizona Lemon Law

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Steve Marsh's 2011 Nissan Leaf: 11 Months, 36,000 Miles

Steve Marsh's 2011 Nissan Leaf: 11 Months, 36,000 Miles

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Yesterday, a local news station in Phoenix, Arizona, confirmed that Nissan has agreed to buy back wilting Leaf electric cars from their owners under the state’s Lemon Law.

The news comes less than a week after Mark Perry, Nissan North America’s product planning and advanced technology director, blamed the premature range loss suffered by some Leaf owners in hot states on excessive high mileage

As CBS5 in Phoenix reports, Andrea and Mason Convey, and Scott Yarosh, are among those who are selling their Leafs back to Nissan.

Earlier this year, Convey and Yarosh’s cars were among seven Leafs taken to Nissan’s testing facility in Case Grande for official Nissan examination, after continued complaints to the automaker. 

“I had to get rid of it,” Yarosh told CBS5. “When I turned my car in, I was only able to get 42 miles on a single charge,” he explained, pointing out that his work commute was 45 miles. 

After just 15 months of ownership, three of the capacity bars on his Leaf’s dashboard had disappeared, representing a 27.5 percent loss in battery capacity.

Unable to drive his car to work, Yarosh turned his car in, and was hit by almost $700 in fees. A week later, Nissan gave him a full refund. 

“I think they’re trying to get me to shut up to be honest, to keep my mouth shut,” he said.

Three Nissan Leafs

Three Nissan Leafs

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The Conveys are similarly suspicious.

“We’re not sure if this is the beginning of their admission that there is an issue or if this is them trying to quiet a few isolated individuals,” Mason Convey said. “It’s been a long four months and there’s still a lot of bitterness still left over from the way they treated us.”

Other Leaf owners have also accepted a buy-back offer from Nissan, including Randy Miller, owner of the appropriately named blog.

“One thing I will point out is that the repurchase price is based on the mileage (reasonable use charge according to AZ Lemon Law), and that mileage is based on the first complaint to Nissan,” Miller wrote. “So if you are a Leaf owner and are having range / battery capacity issues, be sure to file a complaint with the BBB Auto Line as soon as possible.”

According to Nissan spokeswoman Katherine Zachary, the decision to buy back cars isn't an admittance of fault on Nissan's part: it's a way to keep customers happy.

"Nissan works hard to satisfy individual customers when they express unhappiness with their ownership experience," she told us. "In the interest of customer satisfaction, Nissan has recently repurchased two customer vehicles as a good will gesture. The company's investigation has determined that there is no defect with the Nissan Leaf, but we did use a buyback formula modelled on an Arizona state repurchase law, given its established criteria."

Reiterating that Nissan believes the issue of premature battery loss to be confined to a small number of cases, and that globally, Nissan Leaf customers remain one of the most satisfied car owners in the world, Zachary added, "Remember, this is a small group of owners we're talking about, and it's not a pervasive problem. It's a combination of high temperatures and high miles in a small number of cases."

Nissan has not made an official statement on the subject of the first  class-action lawsuit now filed against Nissan in California for the same complaint. 


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Comments (14)
  1. Corporate denial is standard operational procedure. But by doing this, it will ultimately make the outcome worse - people not trusting what they say, and avoiding all electrics.

  2. What would you have them do? A small number of Leaf owners in a hot state like AZ complain and have a problem with the car. Nissan bought them back and will hopefully continue buying them back where necessary.

    Yes, Nissan should have reacted sooner but assessing and addressing a problem like this takes time. The real issue is whether or not Nissan has addressed this battery loss problem in their future Leafs like the new 2013 Leaf being built here in Tenn. If they screw that one up for use in hot states too...then they should be freaking sued and certainly will lose much more credibility.

  3. What I would have them do is make a standing offer to people unhappy with their LEAFs the way that Chevy did with the Volt.

    To continue to say "there is not a problem" seems ridiculous. At a minimum, there is a problem with the battery packs in those two vehicles.

  4. What would we have them do? How about a recall for Leafs in Texas, Arizona and Florida to check battery status under the supervision of a neutral third party?

  5. I am saddened by the manner Nissan is treating the problem. I suppose this lemon buyback is at least something, but it seems like a way for them to avoid admitting their mistake. They say there is no "defect" in the batteries, which is probably true, given that battery degradation in heat is expected in these Li-Ion batteries. The real issue is the design flaw of Nissan's in not putting in thermal management. Either that or they shouldn't have sold the cars in the hotter climates. It is a black eye for the EV movement.

  6. Too Little, Too Late Nissan. Class Action has already started:(



  8. It would be interesting to see how other Ev manufactures car’s batteries are holding up in hot weather states such as Arizona regarding thermal degradation of their battery packs? I wonder if Nissan will be adding an active thermal management system to it next generation battery pack for its leaf? Also is the Nissan Leafs reputation been damage enough by this battery issue that it could mean trouble for Nissan’s ability to sell this car?

  9. What is even worse is the fact this issue will DEFINETLY impact resale value...

  10. @Xiaolong: True, although the risk is only on Leaf owners. Those customers who leased can turn the car back after the lease is up, and unless the pack is totally defunct (unlikely), the risk is absorbed entirely by the leaseholder.

    Nissan tells me that the proportion of Leaf leases versus purchases has risen steadily since the Dec 2010 launch. I don't have current figures, but it may be that newer Leaf customers are becoming more risk-adverse.

  11. Well, it makes sense to "lease" those "cutting edge" technologies b/c they mature. However, if "resale" values are dropping, then it will cost Nissan more money to offer those "discounted" lease program.

    And now if Leaf actually fix their battery issues and comes out with a better pack, thermal control, longer range, those "early" version of Leaf value will drop even quicker and farther....

  12. Many of the earliest LEAF buyers remembered GM's EV-1, that was crushed after the lease ended. Many had no intention of given back their new EV this time. That's why they were both the earliest buyers, and would not lease.

  13. I can't imagine how happy the oil guys must be...

  14. Obviously Nissan didn't test it's development vehicles properly. They should thank the new owners for doing that for them. The U.S. has tremendous temperature extremes. If you include Alaska, it's from -45 degrees to 120+ in places like Death Valley. In Japan, the temperature variation is much less extreme. So their test results would be different and more positive. Duh!

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